We had “hot cross buns” in our Small Group on Wednesday night. I didn’t know a lot about them before Wednesday, but thanks to Wikipedia, I learned a few new things about this Easter-week tradition. There’s even a song about them, a simple nursery rhyme, which introductory band members usually learn as one of their first songs. One of our group members even sang it for us. I guess you had to be there.
As for the food itself, hot cross buns are basically spiced sweet rolls made with currants or raisins or fruit peels, marked with a cross-shaped icing across the top. The ones we had on Wednesday were not actually hot, and they tasted something like fruitcake, except maybe not as good.
The tradition of hot cross buns dates back to 16th century Britain. The buns are usually eaten on Good Friday in the United Kingdom, and in most of the former British colonies around the world (including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and India). And sometimes, in Calera, they are eaten a few days before Good Friday.
The buns are supposed to mark the end of Lent and different parts of the hot cross bun have a specific meaning, including the cross on the top representing the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm Him at His burial. It’s one of many traditions and observances around the world that are observed on Good Friday, even in an increasingly secular world.
There is plenty of British folklore associated with the hot cross buns. Really, a better word might be superstitions. For one, it said that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow moldy during the subsequent year; I don’t think those we ate Wednesday night would have lasted through the end of March. Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone ill is said to help them recover. Frankly, I’m not sure if it might not have the opposite effect.
If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.
For us, there was no superstition involved. It was just an attempt to try something different “in remembrance of Him” to make sure we didn’t forget the the cross in the midst of our Holy Week focus. I don’t know if you have any Good Friday traditions, or intentional reminders you make use of to point you to the cross, but I hope you will at least take some time today to reflect on the crucifixion of Christ, and the sacrifice Jesus offered when He gave His life for us. If it helps, go eat a cross bun. Just remember Jesus when you’re doing it.
And don’t forget to join us for our special Good Friday service tonight at 6:30, as we commemorate His crucifixion and “do this in remembrance” by sharing the Lord’s Supper together. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I’m excited to have the opportunity of celebrating the risen Christ with you this Easter Sunday morning!